Nostra Aetate, Pope Francis, and Islam

 

In this post, it is not my intention to cast stones. I know full well that I am flawed; saved only by the grace of the risen Messiah through nothing that I have done to earn God’s favor. I am a sinner condemned for breaking all the commandments by word, deed or thought. I am a product of 12 years of Catholic education and regularly attend worship at Catholic and Evangelical churches as well as Messianic Jewish synagogues. I refuse to let denominational differences separate me from the full body of the Messiah. I can do nothing about the past, only try to have a positive impact on the present and future. I have over 22 years of experience in Christian, Jewish and Islamic studies. It is in this vein that I would like to address the topic cited above. The Catholic Church attempted to address past sins against the Jewish people through Vatican II, Nostra Aetate, 28 October 1965. This was an attempt to address the overt anti-Semitism of the post-Apostolic Church when the church leaders who followed the Jewish Apostles, were gentiles. These church Fathers are quoted below:

“For . . . you crucified him, the only spotless and righteous man . . .” (Justin Martyr);

“Since their deicide, the Jews have been blinded, can no longerlead anyone at all” (Eusebius);

“Murderers of the Lord, assassins of the prophets”(St. Gregory of Nyssa);

“God has forsaken the Jews. They have denied the Father, crucified the Son . . . their synagogue is the house of demons and idolatry . . . you should turn away from them as from a pest and a plague of the human race” (St. John Chrysostom);

‘The Jews, they seize him. . . . The Jews, they bind him, they crown him with thorns, they spit upon him, they flagellate him, they heap insults upon him, they hang him from the wood, they pierce his flesh with their spears”(St. Augustine)

In Nostra Aetate, the Catholic Church put its best foot forward to condemn past, present and any future anti-Semitism. In addition to addressing the Jewish people, in section 3, the church addressed Islam.

“The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, (5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the Day of Judgment when God will render their desserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.”

Since in the course of centuries, not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.

With the underpinning of this official Catholic document, Pope Francis declared the following as recorded in this November 2013 Catholic document:

“Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis to the Bishops, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful On the Proclamation of the Gospel In Today’s World,” from Vatican.va, November 24:253.

In order to sustain dialogue with Islam, suitable training is essential for all involved, not only so that they can be solidly and joyfully grounded in their own identity, but so that they can also acknowledge the values of others, appreciate the concerns underlying their demands and shed light on shared beliefs. We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition. I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries! Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.

At a celebratory gathering in Rome of fraternal delegates of churches, ecclesial communities and international ecumenical bodies—representatives of the Jewish people and of non-Christian religions—the Bishop of Rome welcomed the group with these words, “I then greet and cordially thank you all, dear friends belonging to other religious traditions; first of all the Muslims, who worship the one God, living and merciful, and call upon Him in prayer, and all of you. I really appreciate your presence: in it I see a tangible sign of the will to grow in mutual esteem and cooperation for the common good of humanity.”

Catholic teaching insists that Apostolic faith is continued in the Catholic Church which is led by St. Peter’s successor the Pope. If so, shouldn’t the Pontiff speak and behave like Peter? In this sense I’m speaking about the post-Pentecost Peter. We find him in Acts 2:14-41 and in an interesting quote in 2 Peter 2:1-2. Boldly, Peter preached in Jerusalem, among those who did not believe that Yeshua was the Messiah who came in the fulfillment of the prophets who performed miracles and was rejected by the Jewish religious leadership and was crucified for our sins—this same Yeshua was raised from the dead by the power of God. This one sermon in the power of the Holy Spirit led 3000 Jews to faith in the Messiah. Then, Peter wrote in 2 Peter 2:1-2:

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”

Nostra Aetate and Pope Francis declare things about Islam that they either believe to be true or are being politically correct in order to not upset the Islamic World. Let’s look at the facts in relation to Nostra Aetate and Pope Francis.

1. They adore the one God… the Creator of heaven and earth

Psalm 105:7-10 “He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. He is mindful of his covenant forever…the covenant which he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute; to Israel as an everlasting covenant.”

John 4:22 “Yeshua said, you worship what you do not know; we worship what we know for salvation is from the Jews.”

 Surah 5:12-14  – “Allah made a covenant of old with the children of Israel…and because they broke the covenant we have cursed them…most of them are treacherous…We made a covenant with the Christians, but they forgot it and were admonished. Therefore we have stirred up enmity and hatred among them until the day of judgment when Allah will inform them of their wrong doing.”

Surah 7:166 – So when they (Jews) took pride in that which was forbidden we said to them: “Be as apes despised and loathed.”

Ishaq:#461 – Before ordering the death of every Jewish male of the Banu Qurayza, Muhammad referred to them as “you brothers of monkeys”.

Bukhari:V5B59N727 – Allah’s Apostle said, “Allah’s curse be on Jews and Christians.”

 2. They do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet.

 

Matt. 3:16-17 – “When Yeshua was baptized he went up immediately from the water and behold the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him and lo a voice from heaven saying, ‘This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”

Matt. 17:3-5 – “Behold there appeared to them (Peter, James and John), Moses, Elijah and Yeshua (transfigured)…Peter was speaking to Yeshua, when a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

Phil. 3:18 – “For many of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Messiah.”

 

Surah 3:151 – “We Shall Cast TERROR Into The Hearts Of Those Who Disbelieve Because They Ascribe Partners To Allah (Christians) For Which Nothing Has Been Revealed. Their Abode Is Hellfire, The Place For Wrongdoers.”

Surah 4:157 – “And for their saying: We have killed the Messiah,  Jesus son of Mary,  the messenger of Allah, and they killed him not, nor did they cause his death on the cross but he was made to appear to them as such, Certainly those who differ are full of doubts. They have no knowledge about it, but only follow conjecture, and they killed him not for certain.”

Surah 4:159 – “There is not one of the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) but will believe in him (Jesus) before his death and on the day of resurrection He (Jesus) will be a witness against them.

Surah 5:17 – “They indeed disbelieve who say surely He is the Messiah Son of Mary.

Surah 5:72 – “Certainly they disbelieve who say; Allah, He is the Messiah, son of Mary…Surely whoever associates others with Allah,  Allah has forbidden (Paradise) and his abode is the hellfire. And for the wrongdoers there will be no help.”

Surah 5:73 – “Disbelievers Say Allah Is a Third of the Trinity.” There Is No God Save Allah. If They Do Not Stop Saying This A Painful Doom Will Fall On These Disbelievers.”                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Surah 5:171 – “People of the Book (Jews and Christians)…The Messiah Jesus son of Mary is only a messenger of Allah and his prophecy…So believe in Allah’s messengers. Say not trinity. Desist, it is better for you. Allah is only one God. Far be it from his glory to have a son.”

Surah 9:30 – “The Jews say Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say : The Messiah is the son of Allah. These are the words of their mouths. They imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them. How they are deluded away from the truth!”

Surah 19:88-92 – “They said, the most Gracious has begotten a son. You have uttered a gross blasphemy. The heavens are about to shatter, the earth is about to tear asunder, and the mountains are about to crumble because they claim the most Gracious has begotten a son. It is not befitting the most Gracious that He should beget a son.”

Bukhari:V8B74N290 – “If a person dies (associating partners with Allah) and never repents of it, he will be a permanent resident in hell-fire.”

 3. They value the moral life and worship God

 

1 John 4:2-3 – “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Yeshua the Messiah has come in the flesh is of God. Every spirit that does not confess that Yeshua the Messiah has come in the flesh is not of God. This is the spirit of Anti-Christ which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”

2 John 1:7, 9 – “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Yeshua the Messiah in the flesh.  Such a one is the deceiver and the Anti-Christ… Anyone who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Messiah does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine has both Father and the Son…”

Surah 5:33 – “The Reward For Those Who Make War Upon Allah And His Prophet Will Be Death, Crucifixion, Having Feet And Hands Chopped Off On Alternate Sides Or Expulsion.”                                                                                                                                                                  

Surah 7:3 – “Little do you remember My warning. How many towns have We destroyed as a raid by night? Our punishment took them suddenly while they slept for their afternoon rest. Our TERROR came to them; Our punishment overtook them.”

Surah 8:12 – “I will cast TERROR into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and severe every fingertip.”

Surah 8:57 – “If you gain mastery over them in battle, inflict such a defeat as would TERRORIZE them, so that they would learn a lesson and be warned.”

Surah 8:59 – “Let not those who disbelieve think that they can escape. Make ready for them whatever force you can…to TERRORIZE the enemy of Allah, your enemy, and others besides them whom you know not. Allah knows them and whatever you spend in Allah’s way (Jihad) it will be paid back to you fully and you will not be wronged.”      

Surah 33:26-27 – “Allah Took Down The People Of The Book (Jews, Christians). He Cast TERROR into Their Hearts. Some You Killed Others Were Made Prisoner. He Made You Heirs Of Their Property Giving You Land That You Had Not Traversed Before.”

Surah 59:2 – “It Was Allah Who Drove the People of the Book (Jews) From Their Homes into Exile. They Refused to Believe and Imagined Their Strongholds Would Protect Them from Allah but Allah’s Torment Came at Them When They Did Not Suspect. He TERRORIZED Them And Their Homes Were Destroyed. Listen To My Warning. Had I Not Expelled The Jews Into The Desert I Would Have Punished Them. They Shall Taste The Torment Of Hell.

Muslim:B41N6985 – The Prophet Said, “The last hour will not come unless the Muslims Will Fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would Hide themselves Behind a Stone or tree and a stone or tree will say: Slave Of Allah The Jew Is Hiding Behind Me Come And Kill Him.”

 4. Authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.

Surah 2:191 – “Slay Them Where You Find Them And Drive Them Out Of The Places Where They Drove You Out, For Persecution Is Worse Than Slaughter.  Don’t Fight With Them At The Place Of Worship Until They Attack First, And then Slay Them.”

Surah 2:216 – “Warfare is ordained for you though it is hateful for you, but it may happen that you hate a thing which is good for you and you love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows. You do not know.”

Surah 4:104 – “Relent Not In Your Pursuit Of The Enemy. If You Suffer Remember That They Suffer Also. You Have Hope In Allah, A Hope That They Do Not Possess.”                                                                                                                        

Surah 8:7 – “And when Allah promised that one of the two parties would be yours, and you loved that the unarmed one would be yours and Allah desired to establish the truth by his words, Cut off the root of the unbelievers (Kill the infidels to the last man).

Surah 8:67 – “It is not for any Prophet to have captives until he has made slaughter in the land.”

Surah 9:5 – “When the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush. But if they repent, say the prayers, pay Zakat leave their way free.”

Surah 9:14 – “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace, and assist you against them and heal the hearts of a believing people.”

Surah 9:20 – “Muslims Who Have Left Their Homes, Used Their Wealth And Lives In Jihad Are Of Much Greater Worth In Allah’s Sight.

Surah 9:111 – “Surely Allah has bought from the believers their persons and their property—against the gift of paradise; they fight in Allah’s way so they slay and are slain.”

Surah 17:16 – “When we would destroy a town we send a command to those who live at ease, afterward they commit abomination so that the word of doom has effect. We then annihilate it with complete annihilation.”

Surah 22:39 – “Permission to fight is given to those on whom war is made, because they are oppressed. Surely Allah is able to assist them.”

Surah 47:35 – “Be not slack so as to cry for peace when you have the upper hand.

Surah 48:28-29 – “He has sent his messenger with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam) that he may make it prevail over all religions…Muhammad is the messenger of Allah and those with him are fierce to the unbelievers but compassionate to one another.”

Surah 60:8-9 – “You may respect an enemy who does not fight you for religion or try to drive you from your homes. You may show them kindness and justice. Surely Allah loves the doers of justice. (However) Allah forbids you from respecting an enemy who fights you for religion, drives you from your homes and helps others to expel you. Whoever makes friends with them, these are wrongdoers.”

Surah 61:4 – “Allah loves those who fight Jihad for his cause in ranks. These are built as if they were a solid structure.”

 5. First of all the Muslims, who worship the one God, living and merciful, and call upon Him in prayer

 

2 Thess. 2:3,9-10 – “Let no one deceive you in any way…The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”

Matt. 24:4, 10-11, 24-25 – “Watch out that no one deceives you…At that time many will fall away from the faith and will betray and hate one another and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people…For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect (Jews) if that were possible? See I have told you beforehand. So if anyone tells you There he is out in the desert, do not go out, or here he is in the inner rooms, do not believe it.”

 Surah 3:54 – “The Jews conspired and Allah also conspired. Allah is (Khayrul-Makireen) the greatest of all deceivers.” (Arabic Makara=conniving)

Surah 5:41 – “Whomever Allah wants to deceive you cannot help. Allah does not want them to know the truth because he intends to disgrace them and then torture them.”

Surah 13:27“Allah leads whosoever He wills astray.”

Surah 5:51 – “Believers Do Not Take Christians and Jews for Your Friends. He who takes them as a friend is one of them. Allah does not guide wrongdoers.”

Surah 98:6 – “The People Of the Book (Jews, Christians) And All Idolaters Who Disbelieve Our Revelation Will Abide In Hell Fire. They Are The Worst Of Created Beings.”

 6. This sacred synod urges all to forget the past

What nerve these men, who can only be saved through Jesus’ death on the cross, because they too are sinners, call themselves sacred. If they were sacred, then the Holy Spirit would be guiding their words and reasoning. Forget the past? Really! We can forgive what has happened to us and ask for pardon for what we have done to others, but to tell any group to forget is the same as saying learn nothing from the past. Think about it. Has Islam ever been repentant for anything Muslims have done in the past? Before the Crusaders committed atrocities against the Jews along the Rhine and in Jerusalem during the First Crusade and a mass execution of Muslim prisoners during the Third Crusade, Islam had taken 2/ 3 of all Christian lands in the Middle East and North Africa during the previous 475 years by following Muhammad’s example and by being obedient to Allah’s decrees. Learn from the past as to not repeat the mistakes of the past. To forget 1400 years of history or be willfully ignorant of it invites bad decision-making, folly or worse. Biblical Christianity and Islam are not reconcilable. If Yeshua is the Son of God, Islam is false. If Yeshua is not the Son of God, then Christianity is false. This would not mean that Islam is true since Rabbinical Judaism also rejects Yeshua’s Sonship.

Only a person who cannot bear the truth would deny that this information contradicts Nostra Aetate and the words of Pope Francis. Considering that the Vatican Library is one of the largest in the world and the Pope has knowledgeable advisors, one can only conclude that the Pope, in this regard, was either: uninformed, incompetent or untruthful. It should give people of good conscience pause when the leader of the largest denomination in Christianity can be this misguided, mislead or just plain wrong. Was the Holy Spirit guiding the Church when they made these statements?

Before any non-Catholics are tempted to point fingers at the Catholic Church they must also understand that some of the hero’s of the Reformation also said some terrible things. Calvin once wrote, “I have had much conversation with many Jews: I have never seen either a drop of piety or a grain of truth or ingenuousness – nay, I have never found common sense in any Jew.” He also said, “Their [the Jews] rotten and unbending stiffneckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone.” Then Calvin’s contemporary made similar but more odious remarks.

Luther wrote that Jews are devils, blasphemers, and liars who “lie so clumsily and ineptly that anyone who is just a little observant can easily detect it,” a “miserable, blind and senseless” people, “nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury.” “God and all the angels dance when [the Jew] farts.” They should be “toss[ed] out … by the seat of their pants,” and “eject[ed] … forever from this country.” God’s anger with them is “so intense that gentle mercy will only tend to make them worse and worse, while sharp mercy will reform them but little. Therefore, in any case, away with them!” Their synagogues and schools must be set on fire to “bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them.” Their houses must be “razed and destroyed,” Luther went on to say,

“The Jews deserve to be hanged on gallows, seven times higher than ordinary thieves”

“We ought to take revenge on the Jews and kill them.”

“The blind Jews are truly stupid fools”

“Now just behold these miserable, blind, and senseless people.”

“eject them forever from this country”

“they are nothing but thieves and robbers”

“What then shall we do with this damned, rejected race of Jews?”

“Such a desperate, thoroughly evil, poisonous, and devilish lot are these Jews”

“They are the real liars and bloodhounds”

“We are at fault for not slaying them.”

“I shall give you my sincere advice: first to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them.”

“Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.”

“Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews.”

“Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them”

“If this does not help we must drive them out like mad dogs”

“If I had to baptize a Jew, I would take him to the river Elbe, hang a stone around his neck and push him over with the words `I baptize thee in the name of Abraham’.”

When these words were declared, Luther was either: mentally disturbed, blinded by black rage or willfully evil. These words are significant because Hitler and his henchmen used Luther’s words to justify their mass murder. Luther who championed Justification by faith alone somehow did not read, or forgot, about Romans 9-11.

By this point some of you may be thinking “What is the point of airing all of this Christian dirty laundry?” Our answer is found in the dead center of the Bible. Psalm 118:8-9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” Christians, your salvation is not found by clinging to your denominations and having nothing to do with other Christians. Your salvation is found in a relationship with the Risen Savior. Yeshua said He came to save the “lost sheep of Israel” because the scripture states, “first to the Jew, then to the Gentile”. Yeshua spoke to and came to heal the Jewish people. Paul likewise always went to the synagogues first. The good news for the non-Jews was that Yeshua also had pity on the Syro-Phoenician woman and her child. Paul brought his message to the gentiles after speaking to the Jews. Although belonging to the body of the Messiah is important, establishing a relationship with the Savior is the salient point. One can commit to a church without committing to the Messiah. When this occurs the church does not bear much fruit because one is not “connected to the vine.” In this case, the vine or the source of growth is the Messiah.

I was very critical of Nostra Aetate in terms of its characterization of Islam because the Qur’an cannot be revealed truth because it contradicts the revealed Truth of the Bible which is filled with fulfilled prophecies. The Qur’an contains no prophecies fulfilled up to this time. The Bible is filled with miracles which no contemporary ever disproved. The Qur’an has no such miracles. The New Testament preaches love and tolerance [the worst BIBLICAL Christian punishment delivered by human means was expulsion from the body of the church]. There is NO capital punishment authorized to the church in the NT, nor is offensive war-making or coercive conversion. Here are just a few scriptures fulfilled in Yeshua:  

“All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him (Ps 22:7-8)”
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed (
Isa 53:5)”
“Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me (
Ps 41:9).”
“They have pierced my hands and my feet (
Ps 22:16).”
“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (
Isa 53:12).”
“They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son (
Zech 12:10).”

The Psalms were written 1000 B.C., Isaiah 750 B.C. and Zechariah 400 B.C. They all accurately predict the life of Yeshua. There are also scriptures that predicted the history of the Jews.

Leviticus 26:33-38 says, “And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.

Deuteronomy 28:64-67 says, “…And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night…”

“… the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee” (Deuteronomy 30:3).

“… Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 17:11).

Zechariah 12:2-3, “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”

Folks, our fidelity and worship belong to God our heavenly Father who sent the Word of God to become flesh in the person of Yeshua to provide our salvation through faith in his vicarious sacrifice. We are also to provide thanksgiving for the gift of the Holy Spirit that is administered to us through Baptism and the laying on of hands and who enables us to do good works in our ministry for the purpose of planting seeds of faith and helping others come to salvation through the death and resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah.

 

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